Trina Holden, who blogs about All that is good, just released an ebook, Real Fast Food, that is available on Kindle, Nook or PDF. Her approach makes eating whole foods doable for those who would still like to have a stocked freezer or staples on hand but don’t want to eat processed foods and don’t have an abundance of free time. She home schools , blogs, and still manages to feed her family well.
She makes everything from scratch and I mean EVERYTHING. I found her tools helpful and while I know I will not be implementing all of her suggestions (I will not give up my microwave) I did glean a lot of useful information and wonderful recipes.
I plan to use her recipes and techniques to make my own stocks, breads, pizza dough, and cream soups for my freezer cooking recipes. She also has recipes of her own for everything from Blender Waffles/Pancake which is pure genius and so simple it makes me feel stupid, to chicken divan and nutbutter brownies. Yum. It’s definitely worth the $6.
Ok, so I promised you I would share my most treasured resource besides Pinterest.
Once a Month Mom has it all.
These gals are the rock stars of once a month cooking.
They offer a
- traditional menu
- whole foods menu
- gluten/dairy free menu
- diet menu
- vegetarian menu
- and even a baby foods menu.
Each month offers a new menu plan in each category that features seasonal recipes. It also features a function which allows you to enter the servings for each menu. You can customize an individual menu for your child with gluten sensitivity and still make another menu for the rest of the family, or portion meals for singles, couples, or very large families. It then compiles a shopping list based on the menu and serving sizes you pick with items grouped into categories for different sections of the store. It also provides a master list detailing what to chop and prepare in advance and step by step recipes for your cooking day. I had you at master list, huh?
It gets better because all of this awesome is free! And as a super special bonus, you can even print out Avery labels with each food on the menu and cooking directions formatted . I confess I love my label maker and would gladly go about labeling all things. Can you see why I love this site? Labels, y’all!
I sort of feel like one of those infomercials,” but wait, there’s more!” They also feature mini meal plans for 5 and 10 days. Problem solved for limited freezer space, grocery money, or time.
Here’s a great place to start on their site.
A few notes of my own on how to freeze and defrost.
- Make sure you allow foods to cool completely before packaging.
- If you buy frozen meat and are going to make a marinade, do not let it defrost and then refreeze it. Make sure it stays frozen and you are simply adding sauce, veggies, etc. to it. If you buy meat fresh, just add the marinade and extras as usual and freeze.
- If freezing pancakes, crepes, or waffles, place a small square of parchment paper between each layer to help remove them easier.
- I usually alternate between tin foil pans, Ziploc bags, and 9×13 glass Pyrex pans. I frequent Goodwill and often pick up pans for a few bucks. I have about 7 or 8 that I use solely for freezer cooking and I store in the garage when not it use.
- Rectangle and square pans stack the easiest. Try to avoid odd-shaped or oval pans, unless you are only doing a few meals and have the space to spare.
- If you are limited on space, or don’t have an extra freezer, I would suggest Ziploc double zip freezer bags. Make sure the outside of the bag is completely dry or it will freeze to the other bags and make it a nightmare to get unstuck. Push as much of the air out of the bag as you can and lay it flat to freeze. Then you can stack them one on top of the other. I have been able to stack up to 7 meals on top of each other in the freezer in 3-4 rows. That’s almost a whole month in the same size as a normal fridge freezer.
- Label and date all of your food. Once things freeze, it is very hard to tell what it is. If it has specific instructions on cooking, be sure to add those to the label. Put the date it was made. All of these foods, if stored properly should easily last at least 2-3 months.
- If you want smaller portions for kids lunches, or to make defrosting faster, you can always use quart bags and freeze them in individual serving sizes.
- To defrost, take out bag or casserole and place in fridge for 1-2 days. To defrost faster, place Ziploc in warm water and let stand, then place in fridge to finish. Place a bowl or tray under the bag to avoid leakage or wetness as the bag defrosts.
- As soon as the food defrosts from the sides of the bag, empty entire contents into a bowl or pan and allow to defrost all the way.
- Do not cook, reheat, or microwave food in the bags.
- Muffins, breads, pizza doughs, and other baked goods can usually be set on the counter to defrost.
- Waffles and pancakes can be reheated in a toaster, toaster oven, or broiler.
You can always make it a group thing. Many women make a few meals each month and trade with others for variety. Call a friend and make a pact to cook together all day and still be friends at the end. Divide the shopping, chopping, and cooking and finish with dividing the meals in half.
I would recommend doing all the shopping on one day, prepping and chopping the next day, and final freezer cooking on day 3. Brew lots of coffee, bribe the kids with movies and treats or enlist their help to stir or mix. Cook like a crazed woman, clean up, and load your freezer.
It is a really long day if you’re doing a whole month so order a pizza for that night and put your feet up.
You’re done for a month!